You’ve probably seen labels on some of your household products that read “use in a well-ventilated area only.” These warnings often appear on products containing bleach, ammonia, and acetone, among many others.
Everything from carpet cleaner to nail polish and hair spray to gasoline may contain toxic chemicals. These chemicals damage your body when you inhale them, wreaking havoc on your respiratory health and much more.
Toxic Fumes and Your Respiratory System
Many toxic fumes damage your respiratory system. Your respiratory system includes not just your lungs, but also your nasal passages, bronchial tubes, larynx, and diaphragm. When you smell these toxic chemicals, the fumes make their way through your nasal passages and the rest of your respiratory system.
You may experience minor symptoms, such as throat irritation and coughing, or more severe symptoms, like dizziness or fainting. Exposure to these fumes over time can even lead to coma or death. You may notice that employees who work around these chemicals daily wear masks, and it’s for a good reason. The fumes from toxic chemicals are dangerous.
Toxic Fumes and Other Body Systems
It seems evident that smelling toxic fumes would affect your respiratory system, but what about other areas of your body? Experts state that extended exposure to certain fumes, such as acetone and ammonia, may damage your central nervous system.
Additionally, smelling toxic fumes may damage your liver. The condition is known as toxic hepatitis. Toxic hepatitis may have an onset of a few hours, or it may take months of extended exposure before symptoms appear. The condition can be life-threatening.
A Domino Effect
The effects of smelling toxic chemicals can have a chain reaction in the body. Should you go into respiratory distress as a result of inhaling the fumes. oxygen supply to your brain, heart, and every other organ in your body can get cut off. You may go into cardiac arrest or suffer permanent organ damage, all from smelling toxic chemicals.
If you inhale too much of a toxic chemical and pass out or go into a comatose state, you can suffer brain damage. You may lose the use of your fine motor skills, the ability to speak, walk, or breathe on your own.
Huffing Toxic Chemicals
Huffing is the recreational drug use of smelling toxic chemicals. Individuals commonly use aerosol cans sprayed into a bag that they hold over their noses and mouths and inhale. The result is a delirious effect and dizziness, which users often mistake for being “high.”
The effects are not a “high” at all, but rather the body’s reaction to a depleted supply of oxygen. It’s common for users to lose consciousness. Huffing is extremely dangerous and can lead to death. Reports state that anywhere from 100 to 200 people die annually in the United States as a result of the activity. Even more, people are hospitalized or suffer effects without seeking treatment.
Due to the dangers associated with smelling toxic chemicals, heed warnings on any household products telling you to use in ventilated areas only. Additionally, if you are exposed to such chemicals regularly, take precautions, wear a mask, and recognize the symptoms of distress.